The goals of public access policies and regulations are to balance the needs of the river environment, such as wildlife and conservation, with human enjoyment of the river.
As demonstrated in the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP), advocates throughout the region have asked that the River be opened and made accessible as a public resource – with similar access and uses as those allowed for the nearby beaches of the Pacific Ocean. However, free access and use of the River has been historically limited due to concerns regarding safety.
Large waterways all across the world pose similar challenges and opportunities to those of the Los Angeles River and there are many precedent cases that demonstrate successful public access with appropriate management oversight. Key guiding principles have been proposed by the City Council's Committee on the River and have influenced the recommendations; they are:
- Grant the public access to and expanded use of the River, its channel, and its easements
- Ensure that the public feels safe when visiting the River
- Establish a River access policy program that relies upon the rights and responsibilities of individuals (and, in the case of minors and/or disabled persons, their caregivers)
- Guarantee that the River's native wildlife and habitat are valued and protected
- Commit that government must maintain and enable safe, public River access and use
- Ensure the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures and incomes while maximizing access to and use of the River
In support of these principles, the City examined aspects of the River's ecological, sociological, and economic contexts, anticipated future obstacles in the form of potential access and use conflicts, and proposed some near- and long-term recommendations.
Areas that could conflict with other uses and may need to be specifically designated are as follows:
- Recreational uses in general (e.g., both inside and outside the channel, including wading, swimming, boating, and fishing, that may conflict with each other and other uses, such as habitat areas)
- Botanical gardens (e.g., California/Mediterranean climate-friendly-in some cases, these gardens might include non-native, invasive species)
- Commercial spaces (e.g., under bridges in downtown)
- Community gardens (e.g., for food purposes-in some cases would be non-native, invasive species)
- Dog parks and trails (e.g., to avoid wildlife and equestrian interactions)
- Equestrian areas (e.g., to manage vector control, disease transmission)
- Farmer's markets (e.g., because of noise, attraction of animals)
- Filming locations (e.g., because of light and noise)
- Grazing areas (e.g., to manage vector control and disease transmission)
- Habitat-only areas (e.g., to avoid disturbance to sensitive species)
- Recreational uses for elderly persons, very young persons, those with varying, but special needs
- Swimming and wading areas (e.g., to avoid conflicts with boats, fishing, or contamination of habitats)
- Trails with bridges and tunnels (e.g., must accommodate wildlife passage and ensure safe human vs. wildlife interactions)
A copy of the full report with near term and long term recommendations can be found by clicking here.
It also includes a list of local regulations pertaining to River access and use.
In addition, recommendations from specific departments including the Fire Department, Recreation and Parks, Water and Power, and General Services can be found by clicking here.
In case of emergency, flooding, threats to life, illegal dumping, and other conditions threatening the immediate safety of the community....CALL 911
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Maintenance/graffiti issues: 1-800-675-HELP (800-675-4357)
Illegal or hazardous waste dumping:
call 911 immediately, or 1-888-CLEAN-LA (1-888-253-2652)
US Army Corps of Engineers:
Maintenance issues: 1-626- 401-4000
City of Los Angeles
Illegal dumping into storm drains: 1-800-974-9794
Hazardous waste dumping: 1-888-CLEAN-LA (1-888-2532652)
Light fixture repair or graffiti on bike paths:
Department of Recreation and Parks 1-818-756-8190
Background Information on Maintenance Jurisdiction
The Los Angeles River is maintained by several agencies and organizations, as shown below. Maintenance to ensure serviceability of the channel structures during times of flood is primarily the responsibility of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LACDPW), depending on location (see the map, below).
Maintenance provided by the Corps and the County includes clearance of debris, weeds, or wild growth; repair of damage caused by erosion, storm runoff, or other forces; repair of concrete cracking, chipping, or breaking; rodent and vector control; stabilizer maintenance; subdrain maintenance and restoration; flap gate maintenance; inlet and outlet structures maintenance; repair of fencing; maintenance of berm and access roadways, bike paths, and landscaping; ensuring that approach and egress paths are clear of obstructions and debris; graffiti removal and eviction of homeless encampments (following due process that requires posting signs for approximately a week in advance before police removal).
The locations for which these two agencies have maintenance responsibility are described as follows, and are shown on the downloadable map pictured to the right.
- Owensmouth Ave. (origin of the LA River) to just upstream of the Sepulveda Basin
- Downstream of the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin to Lankershim Blvd
- Sepulveda Basin
- Lankershim Blvd. to Washington Blvd.
Community River Efforts -- monthly or regularly scheduled maintenance
Village Gardeners - The Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to the beautification of the Los Angeles River between Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Moorpark Street.
Friends of the Los Angeles River - FoLAR organizes La Gran Limpieza, or Great LA River Clean-up every year at many different sites along the River and its tributaries. The event typically takes place over two days during April and May.
Friends of Atwater Village - This community organization in the Glendale Narrows area is a group of volunteers working to improve the neighborhood through mural projects and neighborhood clean-ups.
Los Angeles Conservation Corps - The Los Angeles RiverKeepers Program in the Glendale Narrows area is a young adult program for environmental education and jobs skill development; the RiverKeepers combine classroom education with an outdoor work program focused on improving the Los Angeles River.
Los Angeles River Pocket Parks
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy provides maintenance of several pocket parks along the Los Angeles River. These are included on the website LAMountains.com for both the San Fernando Valley region and downstream of Griffith Park.